In Research


Year: 2020
Published in: Journal of Social Entrepreneurship
Cited as: Schaefer, K., K. Kearins and P. D. Corner (2020). “How Social Entrepreneurs’ Inner Realities Shape Value Creation.” Journal of Social Entrepreneurship: 1-20.


This paper empirically examines how social entrepreneurs’ inner realities – thoughts, feelings, self-awareness – shape the entrepreneurial value creation process. A qualitative research design was used to induce theory. Evidence shows social entrepreneurs engaged in practices that increased awareness of both positive and negative aspects of their inner realities. Positive aspects tended to enable generative value creation mechanisms and lead to positive social/environmental outcomes; negative aspects tended to interfere and lead to unintended negative outcomes. Key contributions include a fuller picture of the value creation process from multiple levels – individual, enterprise, wider environment – while considering social entrepreneurs’ exterior and interior dimensions.


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Recommendations from this resource

Future Research

1. This paper advocates a more balanced approach to future (social) entrepreneurship research that considers entrepreneurs’ positive and negative internal (e.g. metacognitive, cognitive, emotional) and external (e.g. behavioural) aspects.

2. Future research might explore the interactions between the interior and exterior dimensions in the context of social entrepreneurship.

3. Future research could examine the surfaced mechanisms and the process model in large sample, hypothesis-testing studies.

Social Entrepreneurs

This research encourages entrepreneurs to take the time to self-regulate through self-awareness practices especially when experiencing stress, time pressure, and disempowering thoughts and feelings.

Support Organisations

This paper advocates that educators should take a more holistic approach to developing social entrepreneurs that encompass individuals’ mental, emotional, spiritual and physical dimensions. Holistic training programmes could increase attention to social entrepreneurs’ thoughts and feelings, and enhance individuals’ awareness of limiting cognitive and emotional patterns. Such training alongside training in business start-up, marketing, and finance could enable more effective social and environmental value generation.